Another blogger once referred to “tending” her blog; that expression has stuck with me for years. Earlier this year, when I added two additional blogs to my framework, I had to consider seriously the “tending” factor. Would my felt need to “tend” exceed the actual need to tend? And would either one of those exceed my available time and energy?
There are many things to be tended to—too many, I think, for most people. We tend to our houses/homes, our cars, our relationships, our personal finances. Some of us add community groups such as service clubs, churches, sports organizations. We tend to our health (more or less).
Where the pastor role exists in a local church, that person should by all rights “tend” the flock in some real sense. I would go so far as to say that the basic meaning of the word “pastor”—both etymologically and contextually—in pretty much every NT passage in which the word “pastor” or “shepherd” appears is in fact tend (or, in the noun form, one who tends). Yet when most staff pastors refer to having “pastored” a church, they seem often to be referring to administering facilities and institutions and programs more than to tending to people.
And I see that as a problem. [Aside: this observation demands further challenge to amalgamated titles like “executive pastor” and “administrative pastor.”]
I suppose those institutions and programs also need tending to, if they are to survive and thrive. But the existence of institutions is not by any means essential in the kingdom of God. Ironically, the most institutional churches and their “tenders” combine to constitute a major reason I tend to wander (1) away from them and (2) toward more organic groups that do not have, or need, official titles and roles.
I figure this way: if the institution makes it difficult to envision a relationship with the One Tender and Guardian of our souls (1Pet 2:25), that group is presenting an obstacle that this particular sheep doesn’t need to try to hurdle. Can this be indicative of a b-a-a-a-d attitude? Maybe, he acknowledged sheepishly . . . but he doesn’t enjoy wool over his eyes.